Sunday, May 31, 2015

Take my Carbon Dioxide!

The garden is coming along! Here's a little update of where things are at. Strawberries! Real live red strawberries!

The Lettuce, Potatoes, and Radishes have shot up into an epic forest of leaves - unfortunately crowding the poor Hot Peppers. Green onions are doing well, and lettuce seems to be popping up in odd places now. Carrots have also started to poke out and climb to the sky as best as they can.

I'm still worried about the peppers though. We've trimmed some of their surrounding to hopefully let in more light, but I'm still rooting for them! Never give up, never surrender little peppers - one day I want to eat you!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Mad Max is Ridiculously Awesome

Ever since I saw the first Mad Max: Fury Road trailer in the theaters I've been slowly hyping myself up for what was looking to be an amazing new Mad Max movie. Pure chaos and action rolled into one heaping wreck of scrap metal and inhumanity. I'd never even seen the originals - sure, I'd seen bits and pieces here and there on TV and had a rudimentary idea about the plot. Before seeing the new Mad Max this weekend (it's amazing and you need to go seeeee it, liiiive it, breathe it) I decided I should watch the originals!

Here's the Fury Road trailer. So much awesome.


The first Mad Max movie came out in 1979. Despite the great ratings over at rotten tomatoes I'd probably consider this one of the worst movies I've ever seen. Not the absolute worst, but it's down in the dumps under a mountain of other terrible, but not quite so terrible, movies. Despite the overuse of dramatic music, confusing shots, and bad parenting I was still glad to get an idea of what made Max Rockatansky into Mad Max. That is until I watched the second movie and they summed it all up in the first 2 minutes. Honestly, the 2 minute summary was far better than the whole hour and a half of movie.

Even the tagline is cheesy.
So, who is Mad Max? Max Rockatansky is an officer who gets caught up with a terrible biker gang. The world is far from apocalyptic at this point, or is it? I really couldn't tell, but it seemed there was still some sort of regular civilization going on. Anyway, a member of the notorious biker gang dies in a police chase (totally his own fault) and the biker gang blames the cops. The gang causes some other mischief and offs Max's partner (Goose) by setting him and his car on fire.

All that's left of poor old Goose. :'(
Later, they taunt and threaten his wife, but she gets away with their son only to be run down on the highway a little later in the movie. Meanwhile, Max has been struggling with his sanity. Questioning whether he's any better than the biker gang (he is). He quits, takes his wife and kid on holiday, and when they finally die he snaps. Mad Max makes it his mission to go after and kill every member of the biker gang. He's successful and the resulting carnage is fairly entertaining, but definitely shadowed by today's action stunts and sequences.

You're going down evil biker gang!
So, while Mad Max 1 was utterly terrible... the second Mad Max movie - The Road Warrior - is an absolute gem! Made in 1981 this film clearly takes place in a post-apocalyptic dystopia setting. While you really don't need to watch any of the Mad Max movies before seeing Fury Road I'd still recommend watching The Road Warrior. The action is good, the story is good and easy to understand, and the details and true spirit of the Mad Max world shine through.

Alright... starting to look a little more awesome.
In The Road Warrior Max learns of a gas refinery under attack by a local gang. This isn't no ordinary gang - it's a crazed mad max style gang complete with ridiculous mashed up vehicles and crazy get-ups. They obviously want the gas inside the refinery, but it's being defended by the good guys - a group of people that just want to find paradise.

A fairly well defended pump and refinery.
Max helps bring one of their members back to their base, but dies shortly after. He offers to help find a rig to pull their tanker full of gas and he sets off. Max brings it back to the group while fending off the crazy gang and they fix it up and plan to head out the next day. The community escapes in one direction while Max drives the tanker of gas off in another direction. The climactic sequence of events is supremely entertaining and I'm still blown away at how good it was considering it was filmed in 1981.

Watch out Max! That crazy guy is after you!
As for the third movie - I haven't finished it, but I can tell you right now that it didn't hold my attention like The Road Warrior did. It was nice to see the world of Mad Max fleshed out in more detail however.

This duo was one of the best parts of the 3rd movie.


Finally, we come to Mad Max: Fury Road. It is literally the best action movie I have ever seen in my entire life thus far. I could have walked straight back into that theater and watched the whole thing over a second time. The details of the Mad Max world, the crazy characters and vehicles, and the action... oh the action. Watching the movie is almost a workout. My heart was racing nearly the entire movie. As the Warboy says... What a lovely day! Oh, what an amazing, incredible movie. I can't wait to watch it again.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Secret of Mana

Here's a blast from the past. I never personally owned nor played Secret of Mana, but I knew of a few people who raved about it. It was a game I definitely missed while growing up, but now that I've finally tried it I don't think my younger self would have fully appreciated it. For a SNES game it has some great depth, and the game proceeds at a good pace. The mechanics are simple yet deep for the time. It's an excellent real-time RPG.

The mysterious game I had always only heard about...
The battle takes place pretty much in real time. Players can attack with a variety of upgradeable weapons like a whip, sword, axe, boomerang, and more. These attacks can also be charged up for dealing extra damage. During battle players can enter the menu system to quickly select and cast a variety of magic and use items. While in the menu the game is paused which allows you to select what you need without worrying about being hit by an enemy at the same time.

The three main characters, a couple fluffy enemies, and a merchant cat!
Unfortunately, the game glitched on me and my girlfriend during the final boss and we haven't felt like going to the trouble to beat it again. For some reason the weapon we need to defeat the boss with disappears when we cast the appropriate magic on it. Oh well. It may have been a one time thing, but I can't say for sure. Otherwise, the game has been great! Very ahead of it's time, challenging, and fun!

Flying around on your dragon is a great way to get around.

Garden Update - aka Things be Growing

There are leafy thing sproutin' about and gettin' all big like! The carrots have yet to make an appearance which is troubling. It rained a lot just after we planted them and I'm hoping they survived the torrential downpour. Come on little guys! Do your orange stuff! Everything else is doing alright.

Most of the things are doing things!
The lettuce is looking particularly leafy. Om nom.
Here, the peppers can be seen doing their thing.
The plot will need a weed soon I think and hopefully they'll keep growing big and strong like Boris. Strong as Ox and Elephant strap together with glue. Very strong. No mess around with him.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Superbia's Tank Card Game

A sort of long time ago I had an idea for a game. The game featured super cool customizable tanks! Superbia's Tank it was called. I was in love with the idea and during a class in my Game Art & Design program I got the chance to make a game design document based on the idea. Now, years later, I'm trying to take what would have been a video game and am making it into a card game :)

Original Game Design Document title page.
I'd like to make it simple yet complex enough to offer various strategies for winning. Basically, players will make their tank out of 3 cards, discretely issue their tanks orders like shooting and moving, and try to be the last tank commander standing.

This shows how the 3 Tank part pieces fit together to create your own custom tank!

It will be important to draw cards, but also shoot at your enemies and make sure they are not getting ahead. With enough cards you could play larger groups of people, but I'm creating a prototype for up to 4 players. There are Cannon cards, Frame cards, Tread cards, as well as cards that upgrade the various pieces and One-Off cards that let you dodge or put a banana peel on the battlefield. Yes. Despite the Superbian military's elite tank building department they can still be susceptible to a mere banana peel (except for the Hover treads!).

Monday, May 4, 2015

Green Growing Things

I recently moved in with my girlfriend and the complex we're at has it's own community garden. Each person in the complex gets a small plot, about 7' x 4' approximately, to plant what they'd like. We decided on some hot peppers, 2 kinds of lettuce, radishes, carrots, and green onions. Strawberries from the last year survived (and kind of took over the plot) and there's the odd potato still kicking around.

The start of our plants!
We also started some lupin and foxglove at the same time. Most of it is somewhat surviving. It's super exciting to see all these little green thins pop out of the dirt! We've since transferred them to the larger community plot. With a little bit of work we tilled the soil, added new soil, prepped the plot, and planted our starters as well as the other vegetable seedlings.

Our plot!
The peppers were doing exceptionally well. I'll update on the garden again in a week or so. Exciting green things are popping out and checking out the wide world above the dirt!